- The Massachusetts Ways and Means Committee approved a sports betting bill last week
- The Massachusetts Senate will likely hold a hearing on the bill this Thursday
- The Senate bill differs slightly from a 2021 House approved bill
Massachusetts sports betting is back on the table.
As reported by the Boston Herald, the Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means Committee approved a sports betting bill this past Friday, moving the piece of legislation to the Senate where it will likely be heard this Thursday.
Will Massachusetts Sports Betting Become Reality?
The Massachusetts sports betting bill has been in the Ways and Means Committee since 2021. It would legalize retail and online sports betting in the state, but it would not allow sports betting on collegiate events, a major change from House bill H.3977, which was approved by House representatives in July 2021 by a vote of 156-3-1.
The inclusion of college sports betting has been a divisive factor between legislators in the state, with several legislators saying its inclusion would be a deal breaker for any sports betting bill. Without its inclusion, a fiscal analysis of the Senate sports betting bill sets the annual sports betting tax revenue between $25 million to $35 million annually. The House bill, which includes sports betting on collegiate events, is estimated to see upwards of $60 million annually.
The Senate sports betting bill calls for an online sports betting tax rate of 35% and a retail sports betting tax rate of 20%. The House approved bill called for much lower rates, with online sports betting at 15% and retail sports betting at 12.5%.
Another key difference between the two bills is the prohibition of credit cards to fund bets in the Senate version of the bill. The legislation will not allow state bettors to use credit cards to place retail sports bets or fund online sports betting accounts.
The Massachusetts legislative session runs through July 31.
House Approved Bill Still in the Fold?
The previously approved House sports betting bill has been sitting in a committee since last summer, with its future still up in the air. The bill, as approved, will provide for three types of sports betting licenses for casinos, racetracks, and untethered online sportsbook operators.
Category 1 licenses will be available for state casinos and will allow in-person sports betting and up to three skins for online sports betting. Category 2 licenses will be available for state horse and/or gray hound race tracks and will allow for one skin each for online sports betting and in-person sports betting. Category 3 licenses will be available for untethered online sports betting platform operators that are approved by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
Each license will cost $5 million and will last for 5-years. An initial application fee of $100,000 will be required.